Along the Erie Canal, Buffalo, N.Y. (No. M 71, Buffalo News Co., Buffalo, N.Y.) courtesy ErieCanal.org
On July 4, 1817, at Rome, New York on a site now occupied by the Worthington Industries Steel plant, there was a ceremony allegedly turning the first spade of earth on the construction of the Erie Canal, one of the most important public works projects in history.
As we approach the Bicentennial of the Canal’s construction, we would do well to better understand this history and its importance. On July 2, 2017 there will be a march through Lower Manhattan sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Historical Association celebrating this event. Continue reading
In Who Should Rule at Home? (Cornell University Press, 2017) Joyce D. Goodfriend argues that the high-ranking gentlemen who figure so prominently in most accounts of New York City’s evolution from 1664, when the English captured the small Dutch outpost of New Amsterdam, to the eve of American Independence in 1776, were far from invincible and that the degree of cultural power they held has been exaggerated.
Goodfriend explains how the urban elite experienced challenges to its cultural authority at different times, from different groups, and in a variety of settings. Continue reading
The new book Historic Landmarks of Old New York (Museyon Guides, 2017) looks at Manhattan’s historic landmarks through photographs by Alfred Stieglitz, Berenice Abbott, Alfred Eisenstaedt and others; quotes by celebrities, from George Washington to Lenny Bruce; and informative anecdotes, including the last public execution in Washington Square, the ghost of Aaron Burr’s lost daughter, Alva Vanderbilt’s costume ball, The Beatles’ “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance and more. Continue reading
The summer season gets underway at the museum ship Lilac with the exhibit Great Shipwrecks of New York’s ‘Great’ Lakes and The Hidden Hulks of New York Harbor, on view through July 4, 2017. The exhibit opens Thursday, May 25 with a reception that is open to the public from 6 to 9 pm with a cash bar. David White, Recreation Specialist from New York Sea Grant (NYSG) will share reflections on “The Future of Our Maritime Heritage.” Continue reading
In her new book Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics (Metropolitan Books, 2017), historian Kim Phillips-Fein tells the story of the 1975 financial crisis that engulfed New York City. When the news broke that New York City was on the brink of fiscal collapse, few believed it was possible. How could the country’s largest metropolis fail? How could the capital of the financial world go bankrupt? Yet the city was indeed billions of dollars in the red, with no way to pay back its debts. Bankers and politicians alike seized upon the situation as evidence that social liberalism, which New York famously exemplified, was unworkable. The city had to slash services, freeze wages, and fire thousands of workers, they insisted, or financial apocalypse would ensue. Continue reading
A new book by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former executive director of the Sierra Club Carl Pope illustrates some interesting uses of history.
Climate of Hope: How Cities, Business and Citizens Can Save the Planet (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017) discusses how cities, businesses, and individuals can take action to confront global warming and improve the environment. There are lots of interesting examples and proposals. But these three themes may be of particular interest to readers of The New York History Blog. Continue reading
In the new book International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train (Columbia University Press, 2017) by Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum, the French ethnographer Tonnelat and his collaborator Kornblum, a native New Yorker, ride the 7 subway line to better understand the intricacies of the New York City Transit Authority 7 subway.
Nicknamed the International Express, the New York City Transit Authority 7 subway line runs through a highly diverse series of ethnic and immigrant neighborhoods in Queens. People from Andean South America, Central America, China, India, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, and Vietnam, as well as residents of a number of gentrifying blue-collar and industrial neighborhoods, fill the busy streets around the stations. The 7 train is a microcosm of a specifically urban, New York experience, in which individuals from a variety of cultures and social classes are forced to interact and get along with one another. For newcomers to the city, mastery of life in the subway space is a step toward assimilation into their new home. Continue reading
On Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 1 pm, the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The celebrations will continue for an entire year (April 2017-April 2018) with special programming and exhibitions. Continue reading
Of all the world’s cities, perhaps none is so defined by its Art Deco architecture as New York. Anthony W. Robins’ new book New York Art Deco: A Guide to Gotham’s Jazz Age Architecture (SUNY Press, 2017) leads readers step-by-step past the monuments of the 1920s and 30s that recast New York as the world’s modern metropolis.
Robins’ new guide includes an introductory essay describing the Art Deco phenomenon, followed by eleven walking tour itineraries in Manhattan each accompanied by a map designed by New York cartographer John Tauranac and a survey of Deco sites across the four other boroughs. Also included is a photo gallery of sixteen color plates by Art Deco photographer Randy Juster. Continue reading
On Sunday, March 19, Roosevelt Island Historical Society president Judy Berdy will lead a tour of the three new Second Avenue Subway Stations in New York City: 72nd, 86th and 96th Streets.
This tour provides an opportunity to admire the artwork and innovation of this dramatic expansion of public transportation. Continue reading